Whalewatching at the Barbican

Posted by jill on September 27, 2010

Icelandic label Bedroom Community might just be my favourite label at the moment. I can’t think of any other record label that can release such varied music with so few artists. Readers of this blog will already be acquainted with the ‘folk’ singer Sam Amidon and composer extraordinaire Nico Muhly (who seems to have had a hand in most of my favourite albums of the past two years). Joining them on the Whalewatching tour postscript (delayed because of the volcano five months ago) were Bedroom Community mastermind Valgeir Sigurðsson and electronic/noise maker Ben Frost, and four other instrumentalist (including one whose role included providing his hair as a percussion instrument).

Having already seen two great performance of the Amidon/Muhly collaborations in January, it was great to see a third reinterpretation of those songs, especially an astonishing version of The Only Tune as the closing song in the main set. On paper, it would seem challenging to join together all the different styles of the artists involved tonight, but it says a lot of Nico Muhly’s influence in the works of the other Bedroom Community artists, that the varied styles complemented each other instead. For example, two hours of Ben Frost’s noisy pieces might require too much concentration in one evening, however by working with a group of musicians and also interspersing them in amongst the more melodic songs it was wonderful to really enjoy them in the acoustics of the Barbican.